Does Ikea Do Flatback Stadiums?
In 2005 on a sunny evening, Swansea city played host to Wrexham in the FAW Premier Cup final in what was the last game at the Vetch. Those amazing scenes of thousands of fans running onto the hallowed turf was emotional occasion and brought to the end the service of the old lady to Swansea city football club.
The Vetch field had served the club since 1912 and has seen the likes of Ivor Allcurch , John Toshack, Leighton James and even Frank Lampard gracing the Vetch Field Turf.
The Vetch field holds memories for all Swansea city fans and has been missed. That last swansong night Andy Robinson goal sealed a farewell victory for the old lady. It was no more than she deserved , her service to the club weather it be in the old division 1 or that last gasp game against Hull in 2003 at Exeter City`s expense; the Vetch field will always remain part and parcel of the flavour of the club something that must be recreated at our new home. In a series of articles in the next month to the official opening by HRH the Princess Royal we will see what fans think of the new stadium and their memories of the old lady.
Tonight we host Tranmere Rovers who were the first league visitors to the new stadium. That afternoon the new stadium certainly looked and felt the part but what do fans think of the stadium I asked a few of our active members what were their initial thoughts of the new stadium.1) What were your initial feelings about the stadium?
"It was a huge culture shock from the vetch when I first walked in the place last year, and all I can remember thinking is ''is this really ours or what''
"It looked the business. Big open tiers, fantastic pitch, great view and from both inside and outside it looked Premiership quality. It gave me the impression that the Swans were moving forward, onto bigger and better things."
"I think that my initial feeling was a great stadium that will last for a long time"
"I thought it was a great opportunity to get lots more fans down to watch swans and give swans a bigger name in the league."
"I didn`t like it, I loved the vetch and i love the atmosphere that small grounds create, where fans can be on top of the pitch. All though the stadium is a fantastic looking place its no vetch"
"I thought the whole building was very impressive"
My first reaction when I walked up those stairs into the stadium for the first time was just sheer amazement after all those years standing on the North Bank!
After looking at progress photos throughout the months before the opening in July, it really had to be seen to be believed at how impressive it was.
The embarrassing thing though was the name. We were far too late finding a sponsor to buy the naming rights as the council named it simply the New Stadium to begin with. In the end, I thought we could have a much higher fee but in the end I think we got £250,000 from Liberty for a 5 year contract.
You might have wondered in July and August last year as to whether we could have got decent consistent attendances at the new stadium, but as season ticket sales tripled and we started the season off very well, it was very obvious we were capable of doing so.
KevinE2) What is the Pro's of the Stadium?
"well its all seater which is obviously a good thing its one of the best looking stadiums outside and in the premiership obviously not as big as many of them but the architecture on the place is one of the best stadium wise in Britain the bridge is a nice touch as well for 30 million its a steal. "
"Its clean, the facilities are far better than we were used to at the Vetch. Bigger stadium = bigger attendances, a wider pitch…. the more cash that comes in, the more we can improve our playing staff. We would never have been able to do this at the Vetch."
"I think that the stadium is enclosed and the facilities are a lot better"
"Kevin Johns, Brilliant announcer down there keeps the fans entertained"
"The Stadium attracts away supporters as all away fans want to go to a big ground."
"Where ever you sat in the ground there are uninterrupted views of the pitch."
The stadium certainly brings in more income with increased season ticket sales and it also provides more facilities to the club. Although the Vetch had been our home for nearly a century, we desperately needed a new home if we were ever going to move on to better things and it had an instant impact with the club after some dissapointing years of football during the last few years at the Vetch Field.
KevinENext up in the series what do fans think are the downsides of the Liberty Stadium, the old lady and does the Liberty Stadium offer a real legacy for the city.